BARMBY WILL NOT MAKE REDS SWITCH
By Patrick Goss. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
EVERTON are reportedly set to snub an overture from local rivals Liverpool for England star Nick Barmby.
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has not made any public statement that he wants the former Middlesbrough and Tottenham star - but the forward has been stongly linked in the press with a switch from the blue half of the city to the red.
However, Everton - who had responded to rumours that Barmby wished to leave Goodison by stating firmly that the player would continue contract talks after his participation in Euro 2000 was over - may face a fight to keep the creative figure.
Barmby has been one of the few players to emerge unscathed from the criticism heaped on England's premature exit from Euro 2000 - after his late entry to the team saw impressive flashes in both the pre-tournament warm up games and in his brief appearances as a substitute against Germany and Romania.
Everton still own Barmby's contract for another season and if any club wished to swoop for the star then they would have to pay a significant transfer fee, if indeed they can prize him away from a club that has seen a renaissance in form and a return to the international fold.
The Toffees paid £5.75 million to Middlesbrough for Barmby in 1996, and the 26-year-old who first burst onto the scene with Spurs has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the Merseyside club - scoring 24 times in the process.
The past season saw Barmby rediscover his scoring touch, reaching double figures for the season and notching up an impressive hat-trick against West Ham United in his team's 4-0 victory at Upton Park.
The link with Liverpool comes with Houllier building a squad that can build on last year's ill-fated attempt to end Manchester United's dominance of the Premiership.
Liverpool faded towards the end of the season and finished outside of the top three - ending hopes of a Champions League spot in the coming campaign - but nevertheless culminated in European qualification for the Uefa Cup.
However, the manner of Liverpool's rejuvenation under Houllier has led many to believe that the side are capable of finally overcoming seasons of mediocrity to emerge once more as one of the dominant teams in English football.